By SJ Otto
This blog is dedicated to debate and discussion on issues taken up by Marxists and Maoists. We, on the left, have issues and ideas that are not beyond debate. Therefore it is important to air such discussions and debates. But do I agree with Harsh Thakor’s latest article? He has taken on the Ideas of Chairman Gonzalo and his followers and their ideas on Protracted People’s War (PPW). It seemed only right that I should provide my ideas on that subject. But it is not that simple. I am 65 years old. Despite all my years as a political activist, as a Marxist and a Maoist, I just can’t really say I have a definite opinion on this. I can say that I agree with the idea of launching PPW. However I can’t see HOW we can do this. It may be possible, but so far I don’t see any easy or definite way to do this. That is perhaps why we need these articles of debate. Should we try and use a PPW strategy and if so, how do we do that?
I have lived through the time when Mao Zedong actually lived and ran
I was a child at the time and I was no Maoist. I became a Maoist in the 1970s,
following my acquaintance with several Iranian Students who were against the Shah of Iran.
They were my introduction to Maoism. Before that I treated Maoism and much of the left as left-wing versions of fascism. Obviously we change over time and our ideas evolve.
Harsh Thakor used to write for the blog, Democracy and Class Struggle. While I have respect for that institution they had written some very unflattering things about Thakor. But since that time he has written for Otto’s War Room (毛派) and I believe his work is well worth printing. Democracy and Class Struggle has stopped posting and I don’t know why. Thakor has been an on the spot reporter, recording some important rallies and movements in
I have learned to respect his viewpoints.
As to weather I agree with this particular point of view, I can only say I’m not sure. It is hard to believe that after all theses years there are some questions that I admit I don’t have the answers to. It takes many years to develop our ideas on such subjects as PPW. This has been very tricky for me. For a time I did not believe it was possible to launch a people’s war in such developed countries as the
USA. The USA has spent years developing the
weapons, manpower and strategy to launch and sustain wars in many parts to the
world. Che Guevara was quoted
as saying: “Create two, three many Vietnams.”
The idea was that we should overwhelm the
might. But today the US has already created two and maybe three times
as many Vietnams.
This country has developed a military strategy of fighting all of these wars.
today has developed a warier strategy of keeping this country at war for many
years to come. The US
has actually made fighting wars a kind of normality—much like the situation
imagined by George Orwell in his book Nineteen Eighty-Four. In his nightmarish view of the
future, the world is divided up into three major alliances that are continually
at war. That war is used to draw the future society into a kind of normality in
which war keeps people in their place. They must rally around the war, much as
we do in the US
today. It is an example of reality imitating fiction.
I was somewhat surprised when I read that the blog, Democracy and Class Struggle actually supported the idea of PPW as a universal Marxist/ Maoist rule. Many of the supporters of PPW live in 3rd world countries where guerrilla warfare seems quite possible. One example of this is the Communist Party of Ecuador- Red Sun. This guerrilla movement was developed in a poor, small, 3rd world country, located close to
Peru, where Chairman Gonzalo and
his Communist Party of Peru, where originally developed. India has one
of the world’s most successful guerrilla armies, especially The Communist Party
of India (Maoist)/ (भारत की कम्युनिस्ट पार्टी (माओवादी). India
is not a developed nation as much as Europe or the USA.
However, the people at Democracy and Class Struggle live in the
These countries are first world. They are almost as developed in the US. Their
economies and military establishments are about as developed. While the Irish Republican Army (IRA) was
able to wage a PPW against the government of Northern Ireland, their attacks
were limited. They were never able to launch the kind of war it would take to
forcibly take control of that country.
We have had examples of PPW, more or less, in Europe, with such groups as the Red Brigades of
the Red Army Faction
of Germany. There have been a few others. In the US,
Liberation Army (SLA) was the closest thing the US
ever had to an actual guerrilla army, in opposition to the US military establishment. Some
might also consider the Weather Underground
Organization as PPW. The only question is weather that group wanted to over
throw the US government or weather they were only trying to pressure the US
government to leave Vietnam.
There have been other groups, for example, in
Puerto Rico. None of
these groups are active today. The only revolutionary military or para-military
groups in the US or Europe today are Islamic.
Joma Sison has written about Maoist groups in
He has admitted that none of them have developed a real version of PPW. As with
me and Thakor, he has a hard time imagining that these groups can seriously pull
off a people’s war.
Again, I don’t have a solid opinion on this. I would like to support PPW, but I have a hard time imaging how this can be done. I invite anyone who wants to debate this issue to send me an article or comment I can post here. This site is for debate and this is one issue we need debate on. In the mean time, we need to explore all our options of changing our societies, countries and the world.
Also I hate to admit that at the age of 65, there are issues I do not have answers to.